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This question has been answered, and points have been awarded.
Nonprofit Organization Naming Ideas?
6/26/2006 at 7:51 AM ET
I'm a volunteer with a nonprofit membership organization that has been around for decades, using a long, boring, meaningless name with a confusing acronym. (Ann Arbor Council for Traditional Music and Dance - known as AACTMAD). Background in a nutshell:
AACTMAD organizes public, community dance events with live, acoustic music and a friendly atmosphere.
ˇ Dancing to live music is fun and easy to learn
ˇ Welcoming atmosphere mixes a cross-section of ages, educations, professions
ˇ Don't need any skills, a date, or any special gear to get started
ˇ Dancing is a way of participating actively and creatively; it's an emotional outlet and stress reducer
ˇ Supports a healthy lifestyle: moderate exercise; smoke-free, and not dependent on alcohol
In the next year the group is working on building a new community center building that will require increased local community awareness and fundraising. We feel this is the time to confront the name and make a change to something short, memorable, easy to spell, that implies fun, welcome, and community. But so far we haven't generated any good replacement names, and I thought this group might have some ideas.
6/26/2006 at 8:44 AM
6/26/2006 at 10:06 AM
We're brainstorming here, and all ideas are good, but I should clarify that what this group does is not "just dance," but provides platforms for development of musicians of all levels, vocal music, community involvement, and social interaction. Some examples of names other similar groups have come up with: Springstep, Tapestry, Borealis (in Alaska!), Vortex, Living Tradition.
6/26/2006 at 1:47 PM
Sounds very interesting! I've quickly put together a couple of names that are customer-centric and speak to why someone would want to participate with your organization versus an alternative. These are quite preliminary as a name should only be developed once the essence of your brand is clearly articulated and understood. At it's core, it appears as if your group pairs music with empowerment (empowerment to create, meet others, get active, get healthy). However, I don't really have a sense of the personality of your brand - is it young, is it traditional, is it interpretive or is it structured...the personality should ideally be reflected in the name. Without this info, I've got two ideas that may be helpful or you may wish to build upon.
- speaks to exercise, connections, excitement and music / rhythm
- more evocative; speaks to music touching the soul of participants; smashes "soul" and aria (melody or a vocal solo) together
In regards to the names you listed in your latter posting...some of the names are very evocative (i.e. Borealis, Vortex, Living Tradition) which will require more investment to help your prospects understand what your group is all about. A name should be rooted in sound strategy - what does your company stand for, what makes you different, why would I want to be a part of it? (Borealis, Vortex & Living Tradition don't really answer these questions for me). SpringStep sounds interesting (speaks to energy and maybe a stepping stone to something else) and Tapestry makes me feel like there is a bigger story to being a part of this group and that there are varied cultures, backgrounds and ideas that make the company very unique (it also sounds very traditional - this could be good or bad depending upon what you stand for).
Lastly, what are you planning to do with your current name? Is there equity in the old name? Will you be co branding or endorsing your new name with the old? These questions (and many, many more) will help to determine whether you should employ a sub brand or stand alone name strategy. This will be critical in selecting a final name. For example, your existing name may add credibility, heritage and trust to the new name - something the new name cannot do on its own. Or, it could harm the new name if it brings with it some negative connotations.
All in all, there are a lot of things to think about and consider. I hope I've been some help. If you are able to answer some of these questions, I'd be happy to provide more insights.
All the best!
6/26/2006 at 2:47 PM
Thanks, Lara and Rbauman.
>is it young, is it traditional, is it interpretive or is it structured...the personality should ideally be reflected in the name.
"Traditional" is the word we and other groups like us have historically used as a description, but we've done some work and found that it's meaningless to the general run of non-participants, and not much better for participants and members. Our participants are aging, but we're working to bring in younger people and having success. We'd like the brand to appeal to young and old. The same project found that "community" was what makes us different from live music alternatives; in other words, over time, people get to know each other to whatever degree they wish. Other keywords are lively, fun, serendipity...
>Lastly, what are you planning to do with your current name? Is there equity in the old name? Will you be co branding or endorsing your new name with the old?
I'd vote for retaining our AACTMAD acronym as a co-brand with the new name, at least for the first year or two. We have some equity in that we've been around for 25 years, although have re-energized and expanded what we do in the last 5 years. Awareness isn't the highest, but I wouldn't want to confuse people fatally.
>define your targets in as much detail as possible. What are their: ages, income level, marital status, sex, educational level...?
Yes, that's a challenge because by definition, our events aim for (and get) a cross section of all kinds of people. What they have in common is ideally a love of live acoustic music and dance (tho they may not know til they try it), and commonly, appreciation of an idea of community, mixing people around.
>You have 2 alternatives when selecting a name...
I'm not convinced those are really alternatives, myself. I'd like to develop a name that suggests the brand in an appealing, easy-to-remember way.
Thanks, both of you for your thoughtful and thought-provoking responses!
6/26/2006 at 3:58 PM
Shannon D: The membership (300 people in a metro area of 200,000) is neutral on the name, not opposed to changing. Non members are more negative; they are not drawn to the existing name. Changing the name now is driven by our need to increase awareness, involve the community in fundraising, and grow the membership.
The name needs to support the brand: community, lively, fun, active participation. Looking for something short, easy to remember and evocative (if not descriptive).
Thanks for your thoughts!
6/26/2006 at 8:54 PM
6/27/2006 at 10:42 AM
6/27/2006 at 11:04 AM
Here's the list of brainstorming words I've just sent out for additions, conglomerations, etc.
-aria (as an ending for some other word)
Big Bowl of Fun
heart and soul
I'll fly away
6/27/2006 at 3:08 PM
Since selecting a name can often be very subjective, I've often used a naming matrix to make name selection a more objective process. Once you've narrowed down to your top 6-10 names (max), create a chart with the following 3 headings:
You'll want to identify 3-5 criteria under each heading. For example, under strategic, you can include:
- reinforces brand essence (whatever that may be)
- works with existing brand name
Under creative, you can include:
- reinforces brand tonality - fun, creative, empowering
- will be easily accepted by target market: females, 25-45, etc
Under tactical, you can include:
- easy to say
- easy to spell
- easy to remember
- holds no negative connotations
- is understood in both French & English (doesn't apply to you - but is an example of a tactical element)
On a scale of -2 to +2 (in increments of .25) rate each criteria element for each name.
Then, weight each criteria section. For example, the strategic section could be worth 40%, the creative section 40% and the tactical section 20%.
Calculate the total score for each name and this should objectively give you the top 3 names based on your strategic objectives.
I like to get all key stakeholders involved in this process.
6/27/2006 at 5:33 PM
Thanks, all of you for your thoughts!
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